I hate weddings.
I really, really do. They weren’t such miserable affairs when I was younger. Yet as the years have piled up on me (essentially shoving me into the grave), weddings have not just come to represent a major way in which I am indubitably failing at life, they have also revealed themselves to be…a collective hunting ground. My attention is no longer drawn by the bride and her twelve outfit changes or the groom grimacing as yet another portly auntie attempts to shove a piece of cake into his mouth. These days, I notice the hordes of mothers roaming about with the unmistakable stealth of top predators, sizing up everyone around them, and pouncing on eligible singles for their children or relatives.
I had the unprovoked misfortune to attend a wedding on Valentine’s Day a few years ago. This was a particularly treacherous event since my own mother had gotten herself tangled in the matchmaking business and was intent on connecting a friend’s son with a “good girl” she had read about. Yes, “read” about.
For those unfamiliar with South Asian culture, please let me introduce you to the dreaded “bio-data”. A bio-data is essentially a marriage resume. You list your name, age, occupation, education (dating back to high school usually), height, weight (in some cases), and…skin tone. Brown people are obsessed with skin tone. The paler you are, the better your chances. Everyone else exists in the ignominy of darkness. The rest of the 2-3 page bio-data consists of your family's information- who your parents are, who THEIR parents are, what they all did, what your siblings are up to, what your aunts and uncles do, etc. This is just as important, if not MORE important, than the information about just you. In my culture, people strongly believe in the concept of “marrying the family” not just the person, and so, matchmakers pay a great deal of attention to these seemingly insignificant details. Meanwhile, mentioning your favorite hobbies, goals or dreams is often seen as frippery and singles are advised to delete such information from their bio-datas. Sigh.
[Just one example of a bio-data I pulled from Google Images]
Another important component of the bio-data is…the picture(s). My mom is not very technologically-savvy, so I’m the one who opens up all the emails she gets from other matchmakers. Typically, girls are MUCH better at sending good pictures. Girls who are on the thicker side seem to send pictures that focus on their face. On the other hand, girls who are skinny but somewhat lacking in facial aesthetics tend to post full-figure pictures. Those who are basically winning at life and gorgeous in all respects tend to send both kinds of pictures. Alas, girls who are not so fortunate in either department seem to avoid attaching a picture at all- a red flag for matchmakers.
In general, guys seem to suck at choosing which pictures to send. Many times, a bachelor will send in a picture with him and another guy…a BETTER-looking guy… which really doesn’t help matters. Many also include sunglass selfies which are pretty much useless. Furthermore, many guys will attach pictures that range in attractiveness in an absurd way, which can be really…baffling. In those cases, out of the goodness of my coal black heart, I tend to delete the crappy photos and forward the revised bio-data to other matchmakers.
[So HAWT. Not.]
Karma is another important aspect of this whole process. Many believe that making successful matches is “good karma” for finding suitable partners for your own children- hence why my mother was so hell-bent on making a successful match herself. So there I was, at a wedding on Valentine’s Day, my retinas burning from the garish magenta table decorations and the flurry of bridesmaids swishing about in hot pink saris. I caught sight of my mother, waddling as fast as she could in a sari and heels, her talons digging into a young man’s arm. She dragged him across the wooden dance floor, kicking an errant child out of her way. Just kidding. Sort of. The poor guy looked so uncomfortable, stooped over trying to keep up with my mother. Finally, she locked eyes on the alleged “good girl” and practically pushed the guy into her. I watched as she smiled graciously at both of them, introducing them to one another. She then disappeared into the crowd, likely to watch the exchange from a safe distance.
It was cute. The girl laughed shyly and he laughed too. They smiled at each other, tiptoeing through the awkwardness my mother had created. He gestured for her to sit down at the table, and she did. I can’t tell you what they spoke about. But even from the distance between us, the chemistry was palpable- a physical and mental engagement. Everything was clicking into place.
He proposed the following year, on Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of the day a certain meddlesome brown lady introduced the two to each other. Their wedding was the only wedding I actually wanted to go to…and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not one to get emotional at weddings, but hearing all of the wonderful things the groom had to say about his parent’s relationship and what he hoped for in his own marriage was…overwhelming. There was just so much sincerity in his voice and in his words, I truly believed that the two people in front of me were in love, wanted to be partners for life, and would have a successful marriage. The whole experience made the bio-data process seem less ridiculous and perhaps something my generation of brown kids shouldn’t disparage so hastily.
Between Disney movies and Jane Austen novels, I’ve grown up dreaming about that “moment”. There’s actually a name for that moment. It’s called a “meet cute.” Wikipedia defines “meet cute” as “a fictional scene, typically in film or television, in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing. The term has existed since at least the early 1940s.” I used to think that it was impossible to have that moment when trying to find someone via the bio-data process, that matchmakers unilaterally removed the romance from dating and relationships, and that this antiquated system wouldn’t work in a world like ours. Perhaps, I was wrong. I would be glad to be wrong. Relieved, even.
With another Valentine’s Day approaching, my chronically single status has become a major source of concern for me. Back when my friends were also single, it wasn’t such a big deal- I fit right in. Now, as the only single one left, I can’t help but wonder why I can’t seem to do what people a fraction of my age can do so effortlessly. I am, in part, comforted by the existence of bio-datas. I come from a good family, have a decent education, and the sight of my face shouldn’t make guys want to die. That seems good enough, right? And if it all goes to shit, well….at least I have Netflix. House of Cards, bitches.